Abbott’s 100 dams policy is the #Sharknado of Australian politics

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A few days ago, if you are the twittering type, you probably would have noticed the #sharknado hashtag dominate your feed. Helped by the hype of scores of celebrities, including Mia Farrow and the now former Glee star Cory Monteith, #sharknado made a massive online splash, but its ratings ultimately were a “bust”, according to Bloomberg’s Business Week.

Sharnado, a movie apparently about sharks and tornados, was a direct to TV movie for the SyFy cable network, whose role is to fill the “ridiculously entertaining” category of film. The audience for these films is primarily older men, with an average age of 52, who seem to like movies about sharks and famous monuments being destroyed.

Only a million people actually watched Sharnado, despite the twitter frenzy. These B-grade flicks typically get at least 1.5 million viewers, hence Business Week’s description of the mockbuster as a “bust”.

Like Sharnado, Tony Abbott’s dams “plan”, which was leaked in February has received a lot of short-lived hype. Promising to spend billions of dollars to build 100 new dams, the ABC reported Mr Abbott saying “What we want to avoid is the dam phobia which has afflicted our country for at least a generation”.

Senior coalition shadow minister and LNP Senator Barnaby Joyce was reported in The Australian saying “the plan had been developed over a number of years” and “Senior Liberal Eric Abetz said the draft plan confirmed the Coalition had a vision for Australia’s development”.

Like #sharknado, the 100-dams policy revealed that the Coalition is beset with poor script-writing, terribly banal plots and dull, lifeless characters, but underneath is a more serious problem.

Monash University researcher Tim Lubcke has written a review (PDF link) of the Coalition’s dams policy, and it is David Stratton-like in its scathing assessment.

The analysis finds that not only would the 100 new dams be unlikely to achieve their aims of improving water security, but would “provide at least a further 0.61 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually”, thus actually exacerbating Australia’s carbon emissions.

Like the American public’s fleeting interest in the B-grade Sharnado movie, the media’s lack of attention on Tony Abbott’s sham environmental policies are illustrative of a system in crisis. Sharknado was produced due to the collapse in the home-rental market and the rise of Netflix.

Tony Abbott’s environmental policies are sops to extreme conservative think tanks like the IPA, and the billionaire donors to the Liberal Party. The inability of the media to give serious consideration to “bust” policies like the 100-dams plan is indicative of the crisis in political reporting that was so effectively identified in Lindsay Tanner’s book Sideshow.

Like #sharknado, Tony Abbott’s 100 dams policy ultimately is a flop. Unlike #sharknado, which cost only around, US$1.5 million, the 100 dams plan would waste as much as $30 billion.

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